France vs South Korea for Gold Medal of Love
Well, of course the Valentine’s Day card originated in France!! Where else?
Valentine’s Day Card is Born
Legend has it that the Valentine’s Day card tradition dates back to 1415 and is based on love letters/poems Charles, Duke of Orleans would send his wife, Bonne of Armagnac, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. They had been married 5 years when Charles was captured after losing the Battle of Agincourt. When imprisoned the Duke was 21; Bonne was 16. You do the math.
The Love Lottery
Another, less romantic, French Valentine’s tradition is called “une loterie d’amour” (or “drawing for love”). It’s unclear when this tradition was active, but it involved single people of all ages. Anyone without a partner would go into houses that faced each other. The details aren’t clear whether the men were in one house and across the street were the women – but, the agenda was to go into the house and call out from a window to the eligible valentines across the street until you got paired off. Here’s where the tradition goes south. If the now-paired-off-male decided he didn’t like his Valentine he would ditch her. Again, the details aren’t clear and we don’t know what the male would do next; ie: Go back into the house to try for another pairing, Steal another’s Valentine he liked better, Slither off into the woods. But we do know the abandoned women had a plan. The women dumped by their Valentine and left single would get together and build a huge bonfire. They’d burn images of their respective louts and hurl insults at them. Some say they’d put curses on the ungrateful twits, as well. Evidently, while probably therapeutic, the tradition got out of hand and it is now banned by the French government. I’d love to know more about this, wouldn’t you!? Only the French.
South Korea and Love Olympics
And because we’re in the middle of the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea I thought I’d share how they celebrate Valentine’s Day. Or, I should say Valentine’s Months. There are phases to the Valentine’s celebrations in South Korea, one day per month beginning with the first, 14 February.
- 14 February – Valentine’s Day: Women woo the men with gifts of chocolates and flowers (yes, flowers)
- 14 March – White Day: Men woo the women with gifts of candy, flowers and another, special gift. (The day was originally called Marshmallow Day, thus the “White”.)
- 14 April – Black Day: Those single men and women who didn’t get a Valentine’s or White Day gift get together and commiserate their single sorrows. The attire is black, the fingernail polish is black and the meal is noodles with black bean paste (jjajang myeon).
In fact, the Koreans have 13 holidays devoted to love. Move over France – South Korea, the country of love?
In my world, Valentine’s Day is not a day for a fancy restaurant celebration, but it is a day for appreciation. Having experienced relationships with good, bad and in-between partners – I am blessed to have found Kurt – or, more accurately, that Kurt found me. Lord knows we challenge each other in so many ways, but I feel fortunate to be with someone as committed as I am to making our partnership work. This is one “benefit” of maturity I wish I had gained earlier in life. But – better late than never, as they say.